First of all, let me just say that this is the most excited I’ve been for Friday in quite some time.

You see, tomorrow is our wedding anniversary (my husband’s and mine, that is; I just blog for you guys…that doesn’t make us married or anything).

And I get to fly to Chicago to hang out with him this weekend to celebrate (the one downside being that he has to stay there and continue his work-trip when I come back to real life).

Can I get a woooohooo?!

Anyhoo, I’ve never been to Chi-town, but I’ve always heard about how cool it is, so what I need from you is: if you’ve ever had any amazing experiences there—whether from your time spent living there or visiting—would you please share them in the comments?

We’re actually staying in a suburb where his work is, so we’ll really only have one full day in the city, but I want to be sure to hit as many of the “have-to-sees” as possible before we get back.


So, I’ve managed to drag this dinner party business out for a good 3 days without ever mentioning anything about the food.

So, today is grub day.

I have a tendency to be overzealous with my menus for parties because I want everything to be a fantastically awesome party for your taste-buds when you’re here, but that sometimes gets me in trouble if I overshoot my skills/time limit.

I was determined not to do that this time.

And I didn’t.

I (mostly) stuck with things I know really well, and I even had some help from my sweet mama who donated the fixings for the punch that she made for that big NHS cupcake/chocolate-dipped strawberry adventure from a few weeks back.

She also brought bread from a fabulous Italian diner in my hometown when she came over to our house for her birthday dinner (yes, my mama’s the type that brings food to her own party : )), and there was so much of it left over, and it was SO dang good that I just froze and reheated it for the dinner party, and everybody still scarfed it down.

So, with drinks and bread taken care of, what did I do?

APPETIZER: Jellied Cream Cheese with Ritz crackers.


The two outer versions are roasted red pepper jelly, and the middle is pear preserves.

Seriously, if you’ve never tried this as an appetizer, DO IT!

It gets gobbled up so fast, and somehow it seems fancy, even though all you did was glop some store bought jelly over yummy cream cheese.

ENTRÉE: Italian Chicken and Veggie Linguine.

It’s simple. It’s colorful. It’s not too bad for you. And I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love it.


Here I am doing last minute noodle duty.

I didn’t manage to nab even a single picture of the pasta dish up close, but you can see it on the right hand corner of the table there in this shot of all of us (which is kind of pathetic because I didn’t bother to get the wide-angle lens to take it, and I was already practically climbing a fence as it was—in all my pregnant-and-wearing-a-dress-glory no less—to fit everybody in the shot).


SALAD: Mixed greens with tomato, purple onion, and carrots (feta cheese and homemade dressing on the side)


SIDE: Tomato Basil Flowers


These are always such a show-stopper. They’re elegant and beautiful, yet soooooo easy to do (I’ll show you how next Tuesday!).

DESSERT: Cake Pops!


The chocolate ones have pumpkin with cream cheese icing centers, and the white are orange vanilla with cream cheese icing (everything is better with cream cheese icing; I’m considering having that put on a bumper sticker).

Now, before this party, I was pretty much a cake pop virgin. I’d sort of, kind of, haphazardly made them one other time without bothering to follow any of the holy, not-to-be-ignored cake pop codes, and they were a total disaster.

I was determined to do them up right this time around, so I consulted my good friend, Lisa, who could give Bakerella run for her money (and with that whole cake pop craze she started and the book and all, I’m pretty sure there’s a fair bit to run for).

Lisa gave me the lowdown (which I will soon pass onto you!) on how to get them just right, and it totally worked.

I’m not denying that my centers might have been a bit squishy, but they were certainly edible, and they looked halfway decent, so I was pleased with my first {real} attempt.

And the best of all of this food business?


It may have started out like this.


But in no time, there was only this left!

Either my guests were really hungry (and they probably were since we didn’t eat until almost 8), or the food was actually pretty good (it was; I ate it too! : )).

Well, folks, that includes the dinner party tour of 2012

I wouldn’t expect to see another one until 2015 or so, but this go-round was such a success and such a sweet time with friends that, if I had it to do all over…I would cater it again in a heartbeat. : )

No, but seriously. It really was worth the effort, and I hope you guys have enjoyed getting to experience it vicariously.

Alrighty then, now that I’m starving from looking at all those yummy food pics, I’m going to let you guys get after the partying and go grab myself a peanut butter sandwich.

I promise I’ll be back to regularly scheduled features and partying next week, but for this week…


And remember…


If you’ve blogged about it, I want to see it!


1. Link to your specific post URL instead of your blog URL (no limit on the number of linkies, so add as many as you like!)

2. Grab a party button so that others can join in the fun! (Text link-backs are great too! : ))

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3. Consider visiting/commenting on at least 2 of the other links. You never know what kind of inspiration you might miss out on if you don’t. Plus we all love to read words of encouragement! (I know I do!)

4. PLEASE, no shops or giveaways!

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  1. IMPRESSIVE!! You did a fabulous job on the dinner party – the whole thing!! And managed to keep up your appearance of total glamour queen (despite being pregnant) (with twins) the entire time!! I am quite in awe.

  2. I’m a cake pop virgin – they look yummy though! In Chicago, the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium are both a hit if you have lots of time. Navy Pier is a good souvenir/touristy place to wander around. Pizzeria Due in my opinion is better than Pizzeria Uno for deep dish, although Giordano’s is fab also. There are so many places to wander around and gawk at – you’ll have a great time!

  3. I just had pepper jelly with cream cheese at a meeting last week and I loved it! Yeah, hooked. Your party turned out wonderful and look at your cuteness all full of dos bambinos. As far as cake pops, one of my first posts was on the evil *Devil pops* and I will probably never make them again!


  4. Which burb are you staying in? There are always great things to see and do in Chicago. When I go (I’m a suburban Chicago girl myself) I’m a tourist in my own city. Millenium park is beautiful and you have to take your picture in the reflection of the ‘Bean’ sculpture. There are museums galore and the Shedd Aquarium is fabulous. If you get a chance, you should visit the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and go out on the glass skydecks. Those are some of the main ‘touristy’ things to do. Let me know what suburb you are staying in, and I can give you a heads up on the best places to shop and eat!

  5. What a beautiful party! Can’t wait to hear more about your cake pops – they are one of our favorite things to make/eat. I just made some for teacher end-of-year gifts that are strawberry cake with mini chocolate chips dipped in green melts to look like watermelons.

    Did you know there is a “Sprinkles” cupcake bakery in Chicago? We also love the pizza and strolling down Michigan Avenue. Have a great weekend with your honey! When you get back, tell us what suburb you were in (if you want to:) There are some great ones!

  6. You are SO cute I can’t even stand it!! Happy Anniversary!! We just had our 10th.. seems so weird we have been together that long. Lots of happy dust your way!!!
    Andrea –

  7. Everything looks great! I just have one question, what fabulous Italian diner is in your hometown? Are you from a different hometown than me? 🙂
    Also, I went to Chicago in 1999 on a mission trip and loved it. You should go to whichever Great Lake is there, my pregnant brain is taking over. And have some deep dish pizza!

  8. Hi Abbie, your dinner party looked fantastic, but your food seemed drool worthy!! We need recipes here, everything looked so good, and you looked like a doll. Thank you for hosting another great party, can’t wait to share what I have been up to.

  9. Love your dinner party food pictures. So yummy. Everyone looked VERY happy, no wonder. Good friends, good food, good time. Thanks for hosting.

  10. Thank you for hosting each week! Your party photos look they came right out of a magazine! Everything turned out so pretty, and tasty by the looks of it! Have a fun time in Chicago. I have never been either!

  11. Great job on the cake pops! The flavors sound yummy and a touch exotic too 🙂 All the rest of the food sounds delicious as well. I’m kind of feeling inspired to do an adult dinner party now. We’ve had a few porch parties at our place but they’ve been super casual (paper plates and plastic cups while sitting in a lawn chair) and we’ve always had kiddos running crazed everywhere. Maybe we’ll do a ‘fancy’ dinner affair come fall (when it’s safe to go outside again without melting ).

  12. You look stunning in that dress and your party looks like a total hit – can I please come next time? Amazing shots of the food. *Note to self: get a better camera* Have a great weekend!

  13. You look so pretty and that dinner party looked like so much fun!!
    Thank you for hosting these linky parties on Friday. 🙂
    Have a great weekend!


  14. Oh my gorgeousness, and yummm….I so want to be invited to the next dinner party! Everything looked amazing!


  15. Thanks for hosting!! Your dinner party looked beautiful and delicious!! I can’t believe you were that ambitious when pregnant!!

I love hearing from you guys!